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France deficit target

February 23, 2015

Media reports have said France is seeking yet another delay to meet its deficit target. The government in Paris deems it a good idea to keep austerity debates out of the 2017 presidential election campaign.

French flag
Image: AP

German business daily Handelsblatt reported Monday in an advance copy of its Tuesday edition that France was aiming to delay a target for bringing down its budget deficit below 3 percent of GDP until 2018.

The newspaper said the French government had requested a three-year extension to the agreed 2015 deadline in the hope it could keep debates about unpopular austerity measures and structural reforms out of the 2017 presidential election campaign.

The European Commission is to present a fresh analysis of EU member states' budgetary policies next Friday and is expected to call on a number of nations to redouble their reform efforts in order to meet deficit targets.

Patience running out

The EU executive will decide on its response to France's request in the first week of March, Handelsblatt said, adding that German EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger was watching the request with some concern.

"The Stability Pact's credibility is being put to the test," Oettinger was quoted as saying.

EU finance ministers in 2013 already gave Paris a two-year extension until 2015 to get its budget in order in line with the pact's stipulations.

hg/sgb (Reuters, dpa)